Last updated: 7 November, 2013

Arab Israeli Islamist convicted of inciting violence

An Israeli court found firebrand Islamic preacher Sheikh Raed Salah guilty on Thursday of incitement to violence but acquitted him on a charge of incitement to racism.

The Jerusalem magistrate’s court said Salah, leader of the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, had in February 2007 called on “all Muslims and Arabs” to “help the Palestinian people” and “start a Muslim Arab intifada (uprising),” to “support holy Jerusalem and the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque.”

Salah had been speaking during a demonstration against Israeli construction work near the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, in Jerusalem’s Old City.

His speech was followed by violent clashes during which a number of Israeli policemen were injured, the verdict read.

The court said Salah’s speech was incitement to violence but not racism.

Salah will now await sentencing, which could put him behind bars.

Salah, who is from northern Arab Israeli city Umm al-Fahm, is no stranger to run-ins with the authorities.

In 2011, he was arrested at Allenby border crossing between Israel and Jordan after allegedly striking a member of the security forces who wanted to question his wife.

The previous year, he spent five months behind bars for spitting at an Israeli policeman.

The Islamic Movement is tolerated in Israel but is under constant surveillance because of its perceived links with the militant Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip, as well as with other Islamist groups worldwide.

On Thursday, Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service closed down two east Jerusalem institutions affiliated with the Islamic Movement, claiming they served as a front for Hamas activity in the Holy City.